Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, A&E Television Networks,
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Adelaide Clemens, Callan McAuliffe, Amitabh Bachchan, Elizabeth Debicki
The story of ex-military man, now writer Nick Caraway (Toby Maguire), who becomes obsessed with rich young playboy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is himself obsessed with lost love Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who is married to wealthy businessman Tom Buchannan (Joel Edgerton). The movie is basically the story of Gatsby as told by Nick who not only hangs out with him acting as sort of a houseboy for Gatsby who is writing a novel about the story as he sees it. He learns a lot more about this mysterious Gatsby, and where he came from and how he got where he is today. Meanwhile, Gatsby is after married Daisy at all costs which is destroying the empire he built for her.
This novel from 1925 by F Scott Fitzgerald is the basis of the story, which is remake of the 1974 telling of the story featuring Robert Redford which was a remake of the 1949 version starring Alan Ladd. Who knows if there are any other versions out there. I saw the 1974 version and really hated it. I also found it really hard to follow. This version is a bit easier to understand (or maybe I’m a lot more mature than I was in 1974 and able to catch the story this time), but I didn’t really like this movie at all. It’s funny, sometimes, how I’ve seen so many movies, but sometimes a movie will remind me of another movie, and later I found out it was done by the same person. This one, first of all, reminded me of Moulin Rouge which I absolutely hated as well. An old story with Bee Gees and Beatles tunes didn’t sit at all. Well, I hated the soundtrack of this film too as the songs made no sense with a story from 1925. Well, guess what, there’s a reason! It’s the same guy from Moulin Rouge as well as Romeo and Juliet (the DiCaprio one) that I literally could not watch. There are very few movies that I cannot watch, but that one was certainly one that I turned off.
So what was good about the film? Well, DiCaprio did a pretty good job of playing rich playboy Jay Gatsby who is a fake and is really, really shallow. This is right up Leo’s alley. Carey Mulligan was also pretty decent as Daisy. She also is a young spoiled brat who is not very deep either. Toby Maguire’s Nick, on the other hand, was awful. He was such a little love struck puppy dog that followed Jay around doing stupid mundane tasks for him, and taking it. I really hated this character, and I don’t think it fits the kind of guy Nick should have been at all. It also seemed like Nick loved Daisy throughout, but we never found out a bit of it. He gives us the puppy dog looks and stares, but it’s never addressed at all. I am ambivalent on Joel’s Tom, Daisy’s husband. On one hand is supposed to be the old money, respectable and dignified, but he went off his rocker a little too much. Gatsby’s mansion is beautiful. The Long Island setting is beautiful. But the set decorations and car chases are really cartoonish. It didn’t seem to fit at all. Finally, this has the feel of a modern story told about the Jazz age and the 20’s. But it was written at that time, so it was a contemporary story. Some people rave about this as the greatest American novel ever written. It’s kind of Dickens-ish in the way it preaches about honesty, wealth, the crimes of the rich against the poor, and the contrast between the rich people and the poor people. I suppose Dickens could easily have written this book.
All in all though, it’s a romance story most of all, so the real romantics will probably like it. Basically, I think there are lots of love stories to be told, and there wasn’t a screaming need to remake this 1925 novel once again. On one hand, I can never get enough versions of The Christmas Carol, but on the flip side, I think this is probably too many Gatsbys. If you do decide to give this a try (maybe cause you’re Leo fan, or remember the book fondly from your school days), be patient with the first half hour. It’s really the worst part of the film, and it does improve a bit the further along you go. But this is a long movie, nearly 2 1/2 hours, and personally I felt like I would like the 2 1/2 hours back to see something a lot more interesting that this was. At least now I know the story, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that knowledge. My honest opinion is to skip this one.
EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog
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